It’s a windy Wednesday afternoon as I’m sitting on my bed, dressed in red and black pyjamas. I hear the sound of children in the road laughing, and shouting as they play hide-and-seek. My cousin enters the room and charges his phone; I can smell that he just smoked a Groen Pyp (a bottle head filled with weed). I hear a bird chirping by the windowsill in my room, which takes my mind off from telling him he stinks.
I make my way to the front room looking out of the window; I hear the sound of laughter as my cousin and her friend, dressed in school clothes, enjoy a game of UNO. I hear the sound of the clock ticking and faded music as my time runs out to make a choice between serving God or just letting it all go. I feel a pain in my chest, which spreads straight down to my stomach – something in my chest tightens and I can’t breathe.
I run to the toilet but I’m not nauseous. I’m deaf, I can’t hear. When I turn to leave to get some water, my aunt walks into the bathroom and says something, but I can’t hear her. I call out to mom but it sound s like no one can hear me. Then everything goes black, I blackout. I wake up late afternoon to the sound of my mother’s voice calling out to me, she’s near but everything seems so distant. I can’t see; it’s like a switch controlling me when I try to see, I’m still deaf. When I’m deaf, I see, I fall asleep with that thought.
It’s Thursday afternoon at 3.40 .pm. I wake up in a hospital with a doctor by my side. I lay still for about 15 minutes thing about the reason why mom’s not here. Then long days and sleepless nights pass without my mother visiting me. I smell the scent of her perfume but it’s not her. I haven’t eaten and my throat is dry, the emergency button is broken and I can’t breathe.
Before sunrise the next morning, I hear a lady’s voice from the passage calling for help. She comes into my room a few seconds later and I tell her to call a doctor. Instead of using the patient phone by the door, she gives me look of disgust and leaves again. I get up, take the hospital gown off and put on my sweat pants, t-shirt and sneakers. I cautiously make my way out of the hospital to the parking lot. In the reflection of the hospital’s name on the car parked opposite me; I see that I’m at Groote Schuur Hospital. I suddenly don’t know which direction to go because I’ve never been here before.
I decide to walk in the direction all the people leaving the hospital are. They walk down a sloping road that ends at the main road to Cape Town. I don’t have any money so I walk past the taxi with a gaatjie calling out Wynberg in a coloured accent. I decide to walk to Wynberg, but end up asking every second person if I’m going the right way. I eventually get to Wynberg just after 5 p.m., tired and hungry. It’s still a far way to go until I reach home but I’m starting to give up hope when a quantum taxi pulls up next to me.
When the driver rolls down his window, I see that it’s one of my mothers’ friends; he offers me a ride home so I get in.
I wake up at 07:45 a.m. the next morning and see that I’m in my bedroom. For a minute I try to figure out how I got there, but nothing comes up, I must’ve blacked out again. I hear the sound of pouring rain beat down against my window, it makes me want to cover my head and go back to sleep again. I get up to use the bathroom rubbing at the pain in my back as I walk. When I pull up my pyjama pants I’m shocked to see blood in my urine. I call out to my mom, but when I don’t hear her reply, I know that she’s not at home so I go back to bed.
Its 11 a.m. when I wake up to my sister walking into my room and notice that she also still has her pjs on and her hair is a mess. She sits on the chair opposite my bed and I can tell by the sad expression on her face that something’s wrong. She sits there quietly staring out of my bedroom window and it seems like she’s not going to tell me what’s bothering her and I’m not going to bother asking either. I get out of bed, take a quick shower, get dressed and leave the house to go to my aunts’ to see if she can tell me what the matter is with me.
As I turn the corner to open the gate to my aunts’ house, a woman in a blue and white outfit stops me and says, “My deepest sympathy and condolences, I’m so sorry for your loss.” At first I think that she’s got the wrong person when I think about the sad expression on my sisters’ face this morning, I know for sure what she means. I turn and run back home, wrenching the front door open and calling out my mom’s name but my older brother is there; he tells me that our mother passed on this morning. I start shaking and trembling uncontrollably, then I blackout again.
Preparations for mom’s funeral were a bit tricky because she didn’t have a life policy. My brother had to borrow money from the local merchant because we were desperate. Before moms funeral, my brother, sister and I sold our house and all our furniture and moved in with mom’s sister. Things weren’t good there, our aunt treated us cruelly; we had to do all the work in and around the house while her two daughters sat in front of the TV the entire day and her son did drugs. My sister became smart and started spending a majority of her time with her friends, leaving me to be used and treated like a slave.
As much as I wanted to complain, I knew that we had nowhere to go so I kept quiet. When our aunt found out that my sister was hardly at home, she forbade her from going anywhere and refused to give her food to eat for a week. I felt bad for my sister so I ate less and gave her what was left of my breakfast, lunch and dinner without our aunts knowledge. This continued until the day for mom’s funeral arrived. It was a quiet and sombre affair. After the funeral, I was sent to go live with my eldest cousin.
Three weeks later, I moved out of my cousin’s and in with my brother; he had found a decent job and was now able to take care of my sister and I. That’s how I came to meet and know Justin. Justin lived close to where we did and he was a nice and respectful boy who was down to earth. I liked him instantly when we first met. We became friends and a couple of weeks later we were dating. I was happy and content once again.
Then one Sunday morning, I woke up to my brother and aunt yelling at each other. Apparently our aunt had found out that I had a boyfriend and thought it right to tell my brother what my mother would have done if she were still alive.
I didn’t pay attention to their squabble; instead I stood in front of the mirror and asses myself. I had become thin and pale; my face looked different to how it did two months earlier it was like me was aging faster. I also had this continuous cough that had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, but every time my brother would ask if I was OK I’d tell him yes I was. The cough gave me a sharp pain in my chest so instead of going to the doctor, I went to our neighbour, an elderly woman. I told her about the pain I’d been feeling in my chest so she drove me to the local hospital.
The doctor at the hospital ran a few tests and told me that he would notify me about the results before sending me home. Two days later, the doctor called and told me that I had to come to the hospital immediately. I became worried about what his tests might have found so I took a taxi and went the same day. Upon my arrival at the hospital he told me that I had a malignant growth on my chest. This news came as a shock to me because I was too young, still in my teens. The doctor also told me that I had a 20-80% chance of living up to 25 years of age. I cried at this news because there was still so much I wanted to do.
I called our neighbour to come pick me up because I couldn’t face telling my brother about my diagnosis. She arrived an hour later and drove me home. The entire ride home she was quiet after I told her my bad news. Since that day, I had sleepless nights and spent my days crying my eyes out in my room. My brother knew something was bothering me but was too afraid to ask. He went to our neighbour to find out what the matter was with me and she told him about my diagnosis.
My brother was shocked and saddened by what I was going through. He tried to cheer me up but knew that he couldn’t afford to pay the medical expenses that were required for the procedure to remove the growth. We both prayed to God to show us the way and come up with a solution, but our prayers fell on deaf ears. At this point in my life I questioned my religion, God was supposed to be there for me and it seemed like he wasn’t. I had no friend to turn to or someone except my family members and our neighbour to confide in. I felt like my life was coming to an end.
Then one day, I felt like I had enough; I took all the pills and tablets that I could find in our house and drank them all. I wanted it all to end; my suffering had become too much for me to bear. My suicide attempt failed; I ended up throwing up that entire night. This was my turning point. I decided to move in with my grandmother because she loved me unconditionally. She treated me well and understood me. Mitchells Plain was a rough suburb but where my grandmother stayed was quiet. My grandmother encouraged me to dedicate my life to Jesus Christ, she said that, “With Him, all things are possible’’ and I believed her.
Two years later, I was still living with cancer. This is the time that I started writing because it had always been my passion. It’s been three years now that I’ve been fighting cancer and through it all God has been faithful to me, he still is.